Our longest stay during our road trip of New Zealand’s South Island a few weeks ago was in Queenstown, and because of this factor I decided to do a separate blog post to break down in more detail what we got up to and all the experiences we encountered!
If you’ve read my previous blog post (can be found here if you haven’t seen it yet) you will know that majority of the 21st of June was spent travelling down to Queenstown from Franz Josef. A journey that according to Google Maps was meant to take four and a half hours turned into a never ending drive until, finally, just before 7pm we had reached our destination.
Due to getting in later than planned we made the executive decision to just have a quiet, chilled night so that we would feel 110% for our big day of adventures the next day. So we checked into the holiday park (read my post about where we stayed here), hooked up the camper-van to all the necessary power outlets and headed to the nearby supermarket to grab some supplies for dinner that night and our breaky. NOTE: if you plan on buying alcohol take your PASSPORT with you as this is the only form of identification accepted for non-Kiwis.
Prior to arriving in Queenstown, I had done a lot of research on all the activities I was interested in doing, how much they would cost, if there were any deals on, etc etc. So I had a long list of what I was planning on doing (list can be found here), and a rough idea of how our time in Queenstown would be spent, and you can find a break down of our adventures below.
One of the activities on my to-do list was the shotover jet, which was going to cost $135pp. However, a few days before arriving in Queenstown I found a combo deal (high flyer) that sounded perfect and would save $$ (find the same deal and many more here). The combo included a variation of the shotover jet, a helicopter ride to the peak of the Remarkables, 3 luge rides and return gondola all for only $350pp – an absolute bargain if you ask me!
The adventure started with a KJet boating experience (usually $125pp) through the Kawarau and Shotover Rivers, that included 360° spins and piteresque views of Queenstown. An activity that should definitely be on your Queenstown bucket list, I warn you though be prepared to get wet especially during the spins!
The adventure continued as we headed to Queenstown airport to hop aboard a Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopter to the peak of the Remarkables (usually $230pp). With an alpine landing on the Remarkables spur, overlooking Queenstown and the Wakatipu basin with Coronet and Cecil Peaks in the distance; a sensational photo opportunity at 5,000 feet laid before us. This part of the day may have just been the best. The whole experience was only 20minutes which was the only down side as I would have loved to have spent longer on the spur taking in the unbelievable and endless views.
Skyline Queenstown is home to many opportunities and activities:
↠ gondola ride
It was time for adventure three of the day; the Skyline gondola and luge. During my past trips to NZ I’d completed many a luge at the Rotorua skyline so this was not a newbie activity for me. However, for those who aren’t sure what a luge is here’s what it is: almost similar to a go cart, except with no motor and is gravity fuelled and the rider has full control over speed and direction using a unique braking and steering system. Jump on your specialised Luge cart select your track (you must do the blue track – considered a leisurely ride with a gentle gradient, easy bends, tunnels and dips – for your first ride of the day before you take on the red track – with a steeper gradient and a more adventurous ride with the thrill of banked corners, tunnels, dippers and cuttings) and ride on down the hill. You then catch the Luge chairlift back to the start zone where you can do it all over again depending on how many ride you’ve purchased. The High Flyer combo entitled us to a return gondola ticket (usually $33pp) and 3 luge rides each (usually $50pp which includes gondola ride). So after a quick lunch break at Market Kitchen, off we went to luge after luge after luge!
All in all it was a day filled with adventure, unbelievable views and a whole load of fun!
The rest of the day was less hectic and finished off with a relaxing pizza dinner at Winnie’s.
Our second day in Queenstown was not as hectic as our first but still filled with adventure none the less. The morning saw me zip-lining through beautiful woods emerging to some of the most spectacular views with Ziptrek Ecotours. There are two tour options; Moa Tour which consists of four ziplines or the Kea Tour which has six zips including the world’s steepest one. I completed the Moa tour which took approximately an hour and a half, and is usually $135pp, however, there was a special deal where you if you did it at 10am it would only be $99pp so I managed to score myself another bargain! Note: the gondola ticket is not included in the tour price so you will need to fork out an additional $33 for your gondola ticket.
The afternoon was spent on a 90minute relaxing cruise thanks to Million Dollar Cruise. For only $35pp, the family owned business takes you to the most exciting places of the lake while sharing intriguing facts, stories and history of the area. Disclaimer: I unfortunately got a head cold while I was in Queenstown so was feeling a little run down majority of the time, so I actually ended up falling asleep 20minutes into this cruise and woke up about half an hour later.. so I didn’t actually get to experience it all, but the parts I did weren’t all that bad.
Unlike the previous quiet nights we had had, tonight was a little different. Jordan and I had a romantic dinner date at Flame Bar and Grill – so so so recommend this place! Despite being a little pricey, the food was well worth the price! Jordan managed to devour an entire full rack of ribs with chips, whilst I enjoyed one of the best steaks with mushroom sauce I’ve ever eaten along side chips too while sharing creamed spinach – again some of the best spinach ever! Note: we had originally planned to have dinner here the night before however they were fully booked until later that evening which wasn’t what we were after, so I would suggest booking at least a day before you plan on going.
The night didn’t end there. After dinner drinks were spent in minus 8.5° (celsius) temperatures at Minus 5 Ice Bar. I’d never been to an ice bar before however I’d seen many photos on Facebook of friends attending ones else where so I had a rough idea what to expect, but definitely was not expecting it to be so god damn cold!
You have various options when purchasing your entrance, whether you buy just entrance or cocktails/mocktails as well; keep in mind that if you only purchase entry you can always buy drinks at the bar when you’re in there. Prices are:
↠ Child entry + mocktail $15
↠ Adult entry + mocktail $25
↠ Adult entry + cocktail $30
↠ Adult entry + 2 cocktailS $36
↠ Family pass + 2 mocktails + 2 cocktails $75
We purchased adult entry plus 2 cocktails each, which would have cost us $72 in total but thanks to a handy 2-for-1 voucher I scored from one of the many leaflets you can find around town or even at your accommodations office, $36 was all we had to fork out. Note: besides a 2-for-1 voucher, you can also come across $5 off per person vouchers too, although keep in mind you can only use one or the other.
One of the coolest parts of the ice bar is that once you’re finished with your ice glass you get to throw it at a wall and watch it smash into the bin below!
After our freezing adventure we headed some where a little warmer, some where we had previously gone to the day before for drinks too, Ivy & Lola’s. We warmed up our almost frost bite fingers with some mulled wine and warm apple cider, before heading back to the holiday park to turn in for the night.
Our last full day in Queenstown started some what unplanned but ended up with me getting to tick of a lifelong bucket list item.
When we first arrived in Queenstown our original plan was to spend the day at the snow, however due to bad weather and not enough snow those plans fell through unfortunately. Instead we woke up with a plan to go book a bungy jump for later that day only to turn up and be told if we were ready to go in 5minutes we could do it then rather than later, so we booked it, jumped aboard the complimentary transportation to the Kawarau Bridge and prepared to take a leap!
Bungy jumping has been something I’ve wanted to do forever and I couldn’t believe I was finally getting to do it. Earlier this year I skydived (read the post here) which I thought was scary enough, but bungy jumping takes the trophy for being scariest thing I’ve ever done. Standing on that ledge looking down waiting to fall/be pushed/jump was absolutely nerve racking, no wonder I may have let a few swear words out as gravity pulled me down. What an experience it was, and one I would do again for sure – in fact I added to my bucket list to complete all AJ Hackett bungy jumps worldwide!
Being able to tick off this bucket list was one of the top parts of my Queenstown adventure.
Our final day was definitely less jam-packed than the previous two as the bungy jumping was the only adrenalin fuelled activity we got up to.
The rest of the day was filled with wandering through Queenstown city centre and enjoying some of the best Latin food at Caribe.
We were lucky enough to be in town for the first day of Queenstown’s Winter Festival. I sipped on Ho Chi Minh’s at Little Blackwood while watching the sky light up at the opening party and fireworks of the festival, before wandering through the food stalls deciding what to munch on for dinner.
The festival was an enjoyable way to end our Queenstown adventure before we headed off before sunrise for Christchurch the next day.